An interim committee that reviews measures dealing with energy issues is proposing to introduce three bills into the Colorado Legislature when it convenes in January, all aimed at promoting renewable energy.
The 10-member Energy Legislation Review Committee that approved the bills has six Democrats and four Republicans, including Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle.
"We've made a lot of progress in increasing the use of renewable energy sources and reducing emissions in our state, but we still have work to do to ensure we meet our climate goals and lower our reliance on fossil fuels," said Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora. "The legislation we passed ... will improve our state's use of renewable energy and continues our commitment to advancing energy policies that protect public health."
One of those measures would open lands under conservation easements to allow placement of electric transmission lines if they carry power from a renewable energy source.
Under the measure, which is to be introduced by Sens. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, such lines could only be allowed if the landowner agrees and it doesn't detract from the purposes of the original easement.
A second measure, to be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg and Rep. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, both Boulder Democrats, would create a biodiesel fuel blending requirement with all petroleum diesel fuel sold during the summer months.
Biodiesel fuel is usually made from vegetable or soybean oils. While such fuels can be more expensive than regular diesel fuel, it is cleaner burning.
The bill calls for a 5% requirement to begin as of Jan. 1, 2021, increasing to a 10% requirement by Jan. 1, 2023.
According to a fiscal note on the proposal put together by Legislative Council, the nonpartisan research and staffing arm of the Legislature, the average price for blended diesel fuel that has 6% to 20% biodiesel is about 25 cents higher than non-blended diesel in the Rocky Mountain region. The average national price, however, is about 18 cents lower than regular diesel.
No average price exists for a 5% blended diesel fuel, so it is unknown what the cost impact might be, the council said.
The final measure, to be introduced by Tate, Winter and Hansen, calls for assessing property taxes on any energy storage equipment owned or operated by public utilities similar to the way renewable energy facilities are treated. Doing so is expected to encourage more investment in storage of electricity from renewable sources.
"These bills, which we developed through extensive discussions with stakeholders throughout the energy industry and communities across the state, will make it easier to transmit renewable energy, increase the use of biodiesel fuel and encourage investment in new battery storage technologies to lower energy costs and protect our environment," Hansen said.
The interim committee did reject two other measures, one of which would have created a new refund mechanism under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights to use surplus state revenues that otherwise would go to taxpayers to help pay for renewable energy projects.
The second one would have created the Colorado Electric Transmission Authority as a quasi-government entity with the power to build and own electric transmission lines, including condemnation rights to locate such lines on private property.